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Thread started 02 Apr 2009 (Thursday) 00:51
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Rant: Wide open comparisons

 
joe ­ mama
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Apr 02, 2009 00:51 |  #1
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Why do people compare lenses wide open? The classic example is the 70-200 / 2.8Ls vs the 70-200 / 4Ls. Why would you compare lens sharpness at f/2.8 on one lens and f/4 on the other? I simply cannot understand it.

The only comparison that makes any sense to me is comparing lenses at the same aperture or at their sharpest. But to compare wide open vs wide open, when both have different max apertures, honestly, what is the point?

Bottom line: what relevance does "sharper wide open" have to photography?


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darosk
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Apr 02, 2009 00:56 |  #2

For shooters who shoot wide open 90%++ of the time, wide open comparisons are very much relevant.


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Apr 02, 2009 00:58 |  #3

I shoot really close to wide open about 95% of the time, in daylight, night, indoors, etc. Usually between f/1.2 and f/2 on my new primes, or f/2.8-f/3.5 on my zooms. Performance at those apertures is extremely important to me because they're going to be used the most.


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wem
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Apr 02, 2009 01:06 |  #4

I see the point of the OP. I don't shoot wide open. I shoot 1.2 if I need it. I choose apertures, not extremes.

That's why I love "the digital picture", where you can compare the different apertures with each other. The 70-200 F4 IS is sharper at F4 than the 70-200 F2.8 IS. That's one of the reasons I went with it.


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Stealthy ­ Ninja
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Apr 02, 2009 01:12 |  #5
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So you know when you NEED to go to wide open, it's not going to be soft.




  
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joe ­ mama
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Apr 02, 2009 01:12 |  #6
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darosk wrote in post #7649533 (external link)
For shooters who shoot wide open 90%++ of the time, wide open comparisons are very much relevant.

I have something of a reputation of being a wide open shooter. One person even asked if I knew that you could stop a lens down. : ) But why would I compare sharpness wide open with any of my lenses against wide open with another lens that did not open as wide, rather than at the same aperture?


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joe ­ mama
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Apr 02, 2009 01:16 |  #7
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Stealthy Ninja wrote in post #7649592 (external link)
So you know when you NEED to go to wide open, it's not going to be soft.

Let's go back to the 70-200L comparisons. If I NEEDED to go wide open with the 70-200 / 2.8L IS, then I guess the 70-200 / 4L IS wouldn't even be able to get the job done, since it can't get to f/2.8, right? So, again, why would I compare the sharpness of the lenses wide open? So if f/4 cuts it with the 70-200 / 4L IS, then why won't f/4 cut it with the 70-200 / 2.8L IS?


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Apr 02, 2009 01:17 |  #8

To know what to expect from the faster lens. I'd definitely compare my 35L to my Tamron 28-75 at the same focal length and aperture...if I really had any inclination to do any more comparisons, which I don't right now.

Sharpness between f/2.8 and f/4 versions of a lens would just be interesting to see; the only benefit to be gotten from any sharpness comparisons wide open is to increase one's general knowledge of each lens' IQ capabilities at their widest apertures, plus to see if they have a defective copy.


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Stealthy ­ Ninja
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Apr 02, 2009 01:17 |  #9
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If you don't need 2.8 then don't buy it.

You did say: "Bottom line: what relevance does "sharper wide open" have to photography?" which is what I was saying. You want to know how sharp it will be wide open. What good is a fast lens that won't let you go wide open (or at least close to it). The whole point of buying a faster lens is to be able to use it wide open (or at least wider than the alternative).

With the f/4 vs f/2.8 comparison. Certainly the 70-200L IS lenses are an interesting case. In this case the f/4 is almost a freak of nature it's so sharp. So this is not the best comparison to make maybe. However, a lot of people still buy the 2.8 because it offers more creative control and many say the bokeh is smoother on the 2.8. So as a future buyer of that lens (the 2.8) I want to know how it compares at f/4 (like you said) AND how it will look wide open, because... that's why I'm buying it. Sure most of the time I'll probably shoot at f/5.6, but that's information I want to know.

I get what you mean by comparing it at the same aperture (which is what most good reviews do actually).

But if I think I want/need f/2.8 or faster, I want to know how sharp THAT lens is going to be at 2.8 (as well as how sharp it will be at f/4 etc.).

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joe ­ mama
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Apr 02, 2009 01:24 |  #10
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Stealthy Ninja wrote in post #7649611 (external link)
If you don't need 2.8 then don't buy it.

Not necessarily. The faster lens is sometimes superior even at the same aperture (e.g. 35 / 1.4 vs 35 / 2, 85 / 1.2L vs 85 / 1.8, etc.).

I get what you mean by comparing it at the same aperture (which is what most good reviews do actually).

Actually, good reviews give results at all apertures.

But if I think I want/need f/2.8 I want to know how sharp THAT lens is going to be at 2.8 (as well as how sharp it will be at f/4 etc.).

Exactly. But I wouldn't dismiss a lens because, for example, it were less sharp at f/2.8 than another lens at f/4. If both were equally as sharp at f/4, then I'd decide between them on the basis of how important the extra stop was to me vs other considerations, such as size, weight, price, etc.


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Apr 02, 2009 01:28 |  #11
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My comments in bold.

joe mama wrote in post #7649622 (external link)
Not necessarily. The faster lens is sometimes superior even at the same aperture (e.g. 35 / 1.4 vs 35 / 2, 85 / 1.2L vs 85 / 1.8, etc.).

I get what your saying here. But price could be a deciding factor. Though I'd personally prefer to save if it were sharper at the same aperture.



Actually, good reviews give results at all apertures.

LOL yeah, and a horse has 2 legs. I didn't mention what you said, because it's obvious. ;)

Exactly. But I wouldn't dismiss a lens because, for example, it were less sharp at f/2.8 than another lens at f/4. If both were equally as sharp at f/4, then I'd decide between them on the basis of how important the extra stop was to me vs other considerations, such as size, weight, price, etc.

YEP precisely




  
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1ruffryder
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Apr 02, 2009 01:38 |  #12

i like the wide open comparisons to see if im getting what i paid for. theres no point om having a 2.8 if it sucks at that aperture


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joe ­ mama
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Apr 02, 2009 01:53 |  #13
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1ruffryder wrote in post #7649657 (external link)
i like the wide open comparisons to see if im getting what i paid for. theres no point om having a 2.8 if it sucks at that aperture

When you buy a lens with a faster aperture, sharpness is not the only consideration, or even the primary consideration. The extra stop in terms of DOF and noise performance often matters more than sharpness.

But if you are one for whom shallow DOF or high ISO shooting has no relevance, and sharpness is primary, then why would you need to compare wide open? Why not simply compare at their sharpest?

Case in point: the 17-40 / 4L is sharper wide open than the 16-35 / 2.8L II. Is the 17-40 / 4L the better lens?


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Apr 02, 2009 01:57 |  #14
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^^ It seems you really get the point, but miss it completely. ;) :p

Reviews are for lots of different people. That's why (like you said) good reviews compare/show the results at different apertures.

As for the 16-35 vs 17-40 thing. There is a BIG price difference between those lenses too. But that aside. The 16-35 is a better lens for people who work inside more, the 17-40 is better for people who don't so much (ie they are for different people).

I might slightly disagree/add something. The "faster" lens has another advantage over DOF and noise... it's faster. ;) For me that is an added factor (especially when hand holding without IS).




  
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joe ­ mama
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Apr 02, 2009 02:09 |  #15
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Stealthy Ninja wrote in post #7649713 (external link)
^^ It seems you really get the point, but miss it completely. ;)

Hmm.

Reviews are for lots of different people. That's why (like you said) good reviews compare/show the results at different apertures.

The rant is less about reviews, and more about people's opinions, which often seem to revolve around wide open comparisons, for reasons that I do not understand.

As for the 16-35 vs 17-40 thing. There is a BIG price difference between those lenses too. But that aside.

I'm rather interested in what this difference is, besides, of course, size, weight, cost, filter size, and, I think, weather sealing.

The 16-35 is a better lens for people who work inside more, the 17-40 is better for people who don't so much (ie they are for different people).

I disagree. From what I've heard, the 16-35 / 2.8L II is better all the way around in terms of IQ, inside or outside. But it costs more and is larger and heavier, and the IQ differences are negligible for stopped down shooting. So, if it's size, weight, and cost that make the 17-40 / 4L the better lens for some people, then, of course, I have no argument.

But for those that say, for example, that the 70-200 / 4L IS is "better than" the 70-200 / 2.8L IS because it is sharper wide open, I just don't get that. If, instead, they said, "The 70-200 / 4L IS is better for me than the 70-200 / 2.8L IS, because I would never use the 70-200 / 2.8L IS wide open since it's too soft for me at f/2.8, and is much heavier and more expensive than the f/4L IS" then I'd totally get that. However, that's not what people say, or even imply.


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Rant: Wide open comparisons
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